Saturday, December 09, 2006

Learn to survive — and thrive — no matter what comes your way

I've seen people do all kinds of things to relieve anxiety. Some have a glass of wine at dinner. Others shop or eat. But these are troubling times — with hurricanes, tsunamis, war, and acts of terrorism — and if drinking, eating, or hitting the mall is your way offending off anxiety over the state of the world, you should know that the bill will eventually come due. And I don't mean just the credit card statement. Such coping methods do nothing to build your inner strength and resiliency. Fortunately, there are ways to nurture true inner peace when outer peace isn't an option.

A few months ago, a woman I'll call Nancy attended one of my seminars. Nancy had been through hard times: Three years earlier her house had burned down; then her husband's National Guard unit shipped out to Iraq, and when he returned he was angry, depressed, and traumatized. The couple got therapy yet grew further apart until, finally, her husband asked for a divorce. Nancy realized she had a choice: She could drown in self-pity or move forward. After seeing how the trauma of war had torn up her husband, she wanted to make a difference with her life. So, at 35, she enrolled in nursing school.

I think even Nancy was surprised by her resilience. But her leap into a life of greater meaning came from a simple change in outlook. She shifted her focus from her own problems to the difficulties of others. And that one change brought her clarity and peace.

Read more »


Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is sitting at home watching TV and drinking a beer when he hears a knock at the door. When he opens it, he is confronted by a ittle Japanese man, clutching a clip board and yelling,

"You Sign! You sign!"

Behind him is an enormous truck full of car exhausts. Nelson is standing there in complete amazement, when the Japanese man starts to yell louder,

"You Sign! You sign!"

Nelson says to him, "Look, you've obviously got the wrong man", and shuts the door in his face.

The next day he hears a knock at the door again.

When he opens it, the little Japanese man is back with a huge truck of brake pads. He thrusts his clipboard under Nelson's nose, yelling,

"You sign! You sign!"

Mr Mandela is getting a bit hacked off by now, so he pushes the little Japanese man back, shouting: "Look, go away! You've got the wrong man. I don't want them!"

Then he slams the door in his face again.

The following day, Nelson is resting, and late in the afternoon, he hears a knock on the door again. On opening the door, there is the same little Japanese man thrusting a clipboard under his nose, shouting,

"You sign! You sign!"

Behind him are TWO very large trucks full of car parts. This time Nelson loses his temper completely, he picks up the little man by his shirt front and yells at him: "Look, I don't want these! Do you understand?

You must have the wrong name! Who do you want to give these to?"

The little Japanese man looks very puzzled, consults his clipboard, and says:

(It's a beauty)...

(wait for it)...

(Get your best Japanese accent ready)......

"You not Nissan Main Deala?"


A winter adventure later weals the best ways to conserve body heat

When Andrew Matulionis gets cold, he speeds up. In February, Matulionis won the 320-mile Yukon Arctic Ultra in 5.5 days, shaving more than 12 hours off the record. Pulling a sled packed with survival gear, the 41-year-old pharmacist from Whitefish, MT, endured daily temperature swings from 40° to -25°F. Here, the Arctic racer explains how to stay warm on a trip of any length, from a short snowshoe hike to a multiday trek.

Transition faster "When you're fatigued or slightly damp, shivering can begin within seconds of stopping," Matulionis warns. "Shorten your breaks by having your gear accessible." Place snacks and essentials like lip balm, hat. and mittens in your jacket, and store clothes and hot drinks near the top of your pack.

Prevent icing Leave an inch of air inside your water bottle so the liquid can slosh around, and pack it upside down so the water doesn't start to freeze at the mouthpiece.

Dress down "You'll need less clothing than you think because the body generates incredible heat," advises Matulionis, who begins races shivering. The worst thing you can do is drench your down and fleece layers by overdressing at the trailhead.

Change clothes Immediately swap out wet clothes when you slop. "Shivering gobbles up calories," he says, "Before I do anything — even drink or eat — I strip off my wet top and put on a dry one, even at 20 below."

Get hooded When you pause for a break or crawl out of a tent, zip on a windbreaker, cinching down the hood to retain heat and repel wind. "It feels like a cocoon and gives you a real and psychological sense of protection," Matulionis says.

Source: Backpacker, Dec2006

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Crazy in Love

Doug and Jackie Christie pose in a promotional photo for their new show By Percy Allen

Reportedly Essence, settling into a green suede sofa in the living room of their $5 million estate in Bellevue, Washington, basketball star Doug Christie reaches for his wife Jackie's hand, and their fingers instinctively interlock. As the couple discuss their upcoming reality series, Committed: The Christies, which premiered last month on BETJ, they rarely stop touching, sitting so close it's as if they're joined at the hip. It's a vision of marital unity you'd expect to find in the home of a woman who's known throughout the sports world for never leaving her husband's side.

From Jackie's habit of flying with Doug's team to away games, to the special hand signals Doug flashes her as many as 60 times during a game, the Christies' relationship is ripe for ridicule in an industry where infidelity is the norm. Jackie's behavior is so extreme, says an industry insider, that some folks just call her crazy. "She has the reputation of being obsessive and overbearing," says one sports broadcaster. "And she's made her husband a bit of a pariah in NBA circles because you know if you trade for Doug Christie, his wife comes along as part of the package."

The public discovered just how tight the two are during an October 2002 preseason game, when Jackie, wildly swinging her handbag, ran into the middle of an off-court fight involving Doug and Los Angeles Lakers forward Rick Fox. Almost immediately the Christies' relationship became fodder for sports shows and late-night comedians. But what kept tongues wagging wasn't simply Jackie's willingness to brawl for her man, but also the iron-fisted control she seems to exert over him. "I trust Doug," she insists. "I just don't trust other women."

Six years ago when her husband was playing for the Toronto Raptors (he's currently a free agent, rehabbing an ankle injury), Jackie, allegedly, was uncomfortable that female employees would enter the locker room after games, so Doug began dressing in an adjacent room. The 6-foot 6-inch swingman is so reluctant to fraternize with the opposite sex that, by his own admission, he rarely makes eye contact with females. Meanwhile, his wife made headlines for screaming at a female fan who asked her husband for a kiss. Their conduct has even landed the couple in court. In 2003, when Doug played for the Sacramento Kings, the Christies were named in a lawsuit filed by the team's female PR person, Stephanie Shepard, who claimed she was unable to do her job because the couple is adamant about Doug's limiting his contact with women when Jackie isn't with him.

For Jackie, who remarries her husband every year in a full-length wedding ceremony with guests and cakes, Committed is an opportunity to show detractors just how great things really are. "We don't do anything we're ashamed of," Jackie adds with a smile. "I'm devoted and dedicated to my family and Doug's career. I want to be everything to him, for him and about him. I want to be his queen and he's my king. And it's beautiful." "They've said so much about us," Doug adds with a shrug, his shoulder pressed tight against his wife's. "But nothing really bothers me. Being called whipped or soft and henpecked and all of that stuff, it only bothers me when it hurts my wife's feelings. Ultimately, I'm not afraid for my wife to be a strong Black woman."

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How to Be More Confident

By: Nazenet Habtezghi, Essence

Go from fainthearted to fearless--or at least look like you have--with these tips

Not as bold as you'd like to be? Not a problem. With these subtle but effective strategies, you can appear more self-assured in nearly any situation.

At the Gym
Confidence Crusher:
After months of saying you're going to, you finally join a fitness club. But the chiseled gym junkies you see on your first visit leave you too embarrassed about your own body to even show up again.

The Cure: Treat yourself to some sleek fitness wear. "When you put on flattering clothes, you feel good about yourself. This helps build and maintain your confidence to keep you going at the gym," says Rana Walker, a mental health therapist and founder of Diamond Cutter, a wellness coaching company in Philadelphia. You'll look good and, most important, show up and get closer to your fitness goals.

In the Club
Confidence Crusher:
You spot a cute brother at the bar you would love to talk to--if he'd step to you. While you watch and wait for him to make the first move, some other sister pulls him onto the dance floor.

The Cure: "If you're too shy to introduce yourself, at least make yourself approachable," suggests Sophfronia Scott, life coach and contributing writer to Chicken Soup for the African American Woman's Soul (Health Communications). No matter how nervous you are, you can project a warm, radiant smile in his direction when he looks your way. "When you smile, it relaxes you, plus it helps you feel more attractive and confident," Scott explains. "It creates a glow that emanates from you. Men see that as a signal that you're not going to reject them."

In the Bedroom
Confidence Crusher: Your man thinks you've turned off the lights to set the mood, but little does he know, you're actually trying to hide your ample curves in the dark.

The Cure: Before you start flicking switches, spend some quality time exploring your body alone. Stand in front of a mirror and pick your best features. "This will help you love the skin you're in, a sexy trait your mate will appreciate as well," says Walker. Then figure out how to flaunt that favorite body part the next time you're with your beau. If it's your rear, for ex ample, put on a sexy thong with a killer pair of heels and saunter around your bedroom showing off your assets. Trust us, it'll raise more than just your confidence.

At the Office
Confidence Crusher:
You want and deserve a raise, but you're just too timid to ask your boss for one.

The Cure: Be sure to do your homework "Lack of experience or information are the main causes of low confidence," says Scott. So first gather all the info you need to plead your case for a promotion. Try creating a detailed outline of the reasons why you're due a raise or job advancement. Then practice, practice, practice what you'll say. By rehearsing, you'll internalize the conversation so that you're comfortable when the time comes to talk to your boss face-to-face. Maintaining eye contact (instead of looking away) and a slight smile (instead of a blank stare) can also help you seem more self-assured.

If You Do Only One Thing…
Rehearse any jitter-inducing things you have to say. You'll internalize the conversation and be more comfortable when it's time to talk.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Presenting Your Talk

For Business and Professional Speakers

The big day has come. You're ready to deliver your talk. But there are still a few final things to do before you face your audience, such as arriving early so you can check out the logistics of the room in which you'll be speaking.

Check the Equipment
Learn how to turn the microphone off and on, and how to remove it from the stand. Practice talking into it and walking without tangling the cord around your feet. Audio/Visual Equipment: Whether it's an overhead projector, slide projector, or a VCR, make sure the equipment is in working order, and you know how to use it. Inspect your slides, transparencies or videotapes. Are they in the right sequence? Are they in good shape? Easel or chalkboard: Do you have lots of appropriate writing materials? Appropriate markers and erasers for a chalkboard, extra paper and markers for an easel? Can you write some of your information beforehand to save time during your presentation?

Connect with the organizer or emcee
Be clear about who will introduce you, and where you'll be. (The best scenario is to walk on from the wings!) If it's a banquet, check that you will have a clear path to the mike. No tripping over wires, chairs, or diners. Hand the emcee your pre-written introduction, and be sure he or she can pronounce your name correctly. Have it written in 18 - 20 point type, so it is easy to read, and instructions such as "pause before continuing."

Overcome stage fright
If the butterflies in your stomach are taking some of the joy out of the occasion, here is what the professionals do. Find a private place to warm up by relaxing your body and face.

• Stand on one leg and shake the other. When you put your foot back on the ground, it's going to feel lighter. Now, switch legs and shake again. It's a technique that actors use.

• Shake your hands … fast. Hold them above your head, bending at the wrist and elbow, and lower them. This will make your hand movements more natural.

• Relax your face muscles by chewing in a highly exaggerated way. Do shoulder and neck rolls.

Give your speech
Remember that the audience is really on your side. That's the good news. People are giving you their time, and they want you to be good. They'll stay on your side for about 30 seconds. You have about that much time to keep them on your side for the rest of your speech. How do you do that?

Look the part. Your first impression is hard to overcome. Looking professional adds to your credibility and that of your business.
Act naturally. "What an actor has to do is be personal in public," said acting coach Lee Strasberg. Being on a stage makes you a little larger than life, but you also need to be personal in public. That's what all those warm up exercises are about - to help you feel natural and act naturally.
Don't tell what you can show. I learned this from Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Norris learned it from his friend, the late Steve McQueen, who advised him, "Say the last word in the scene, and don't say anything you don't have to." Audiences don't go to hear what Norris or Van Damme say. They go to see what they do.
Choose your emphasis. Examine each word in your speech, looking for the emotion. Each word is not equally important. The audience will get your message based on the inflection and emphasis you place on key words and phrases.
Move about if you can. I urge you not to stand behind the lectern throughout your entire talk. It puts a barrier between you and the audience. However, if you feel more secure standing behind the lectern, never, never lean on it.
Vary your intensity. You're new to speaking, and you're not an actor, but you can add excitement to your talk just the same. The enemy of the speaker is sameness. Stand, move, be serious, and be funny, talk loudly, talk softly, don't speak in black and white. Speak in Technicolor®!
Dealing with your audience
The one-face myth: Have you ever heard that you should look at one friendly person in the audience? If you do, I promise you that person will ask you out to dinner because they think you're trying to pick them up. Do NOT look at one person. Give each segment of the audience equal time and eye contact, as in pieces of a pie.

Dealing with distractions
During a speech I delivered in Australia, where they have more mobile phones than in the U.S., one man accepted three phone calls. Professional and novice speakers all face distractions during their talks. Eliminate as many as you can. When they do occur, ignore them, or incorporate them into your talk. That talk in Australia was before 2000 people, and I chose to ignore the man talking on the phone. I walked to the opposite side of the stage, away from the caller, bringing the audience's attention. Remember that the eye follows movement. I worked the crowd from there until he hung up.

Incorporating the distraction into your talk can be tricky, and it will be different every time. A woman asked my advice about a talk she gave while an important football game was in progress. Members of her audience kept slipping out of the meeting room to get a glimpse of it in the hotel bar. I suggested she acknowledge a similar future distraction by saying something like, "If I didn't have to work here tonight, I'd probably be watching the game. If you don't need the information I'm offering, you can leave with my blessing. But for the benefit of those who stay, please don't disrupt by coming back." By acknowledging the situation and graciously allowing people to leave, you have the rest of the audience on your side.

Keep yourself on schedule by keeping a small travel-style clock set on the lectern, or a clearly visible wall clock in the room. The audience should never be aware that you're doing this. Don't be surprised if the meeting is running late. Ask the program chair if he or she would like you to cut a few minutes out of your talk to get the event back on schedule. It's not as difficult as you think. Don't sacrifice your strong opening or dramatic closing. Instead, hit the highlights of your talk, dropping some of the supporting stories or anecdotes.

If, on the other hand, the program chair asks you to stretch out your talk:

• Always have an extra chunk of material prepared. Perhaps a slightly longer version of a key story or extra supportive stories for each point. When a format is suitable, such as round-table seating, you can invite group discussions on a major point.

• If you're teaching a skill, invite someone in the audience to role-play it with you.

• Ask audience members to share their personal experiences that relate to your topic. When I do this, I ask, "What did you learn from this experience that you can use in your business?" I offer small prizes to those who speak up; for example, a cassette tape of one of my speeches. This guarantees others in the audience will participate more freely.

Promoting your Business
If you're like me, the point of speaking is to increase awareness of your business and expand your client base. Over the years, I've learned a great deal about marketing myself. Here are some techniques that will serve you well.

Handouts: Develop a page detailing your key points. Or, if you've had an article published, make copies for the audience members. Make sure the handout includes your name, address and telephone number. You might also include an order blank for your product or service printed on the back.

Door prizes: You can offer a door prize (this can be a product you sell or certificate for service - a free evaluation of financial status, etc.) Ask everyone to drop their business cards in a box from which you or the program chair will draw the winner or winners at the end of your talk.

Business Cards: If your goal is to develop business contacts, always collect business cards from the audience members. You can offer to send additional information, articles or tip sheets to them.

Making a Job of it
Most of you will be honing your speaking skills as a tool for advancing your business. A few of you may discover you're so good at getting your message across to groups that you're considering doing it full time, perhaps as a spokesperson for your industry or profession. If so, here's some Fripp advice. Even if you'd never consider professional speaking, many of these tips apply to starting any new business. You bring the same qualities to speaking that you have used in your other business affairs. If you have never been even remotely successful before, you aren't going to be now. My overnight success took 19 years of gradual, constant growth. I worked all the time to get ready for the opportunities that came. You don't get the opportunities first and then do the work, thinking, "I will become CEO, and then I'll learn the business …"

You can't make it as a speaker on your looks or the power of your personality, not even on your speaking skills. Audiences expect you to have original material or, at the very least, an original slant on your material. Can anyone else say it? Does anyone else say it? If so, don't say it.

As you grow and develop, new material will too. Start with one good speech that people really want to hear rather than 16 indifferent speeches. Once you have this speech, work on adapting and expanding it, ultimately turning it into a seminar. Then go for speech #2.

Socializing: Go early, go to the cocktail party or reception, walk around and look at the exhibits at a conference, talk to and learn about your audience. You have to be social. You have to be nice. I'm clear with myself and the organizers that I will go to a social event the night before, such as a dinner with the board of directors and their spouses. However, I draw the line at parties at an off-site location 10 miles away with country-western dancing where my presence won't make any difference.

Diversifying: Never have all your eggs in one basket. A speaker friend gave a presentation about how he had lost 96 speaking engagements in two days. He had three clients that each booked more than 30 dates. Then all three had business reversals. Another speaker was thrilled that 70 percent of his business came from IBM. Guess what happened when IBM eliminated all outside contractors?

Free speech: There is no such thing as a free speech. There are just speeches that you don't get paid for directly. Even at this stage in my career, I still do "targeted showcases" for meeting industry groups as part of my overall marketing strategy. I don't expect anything to come of them, but it's amazing how often they produce future business.

My early clients didn't realize that my "free speeches" cost me about $130 each for preparation, travel, and lost time at my salon. To get customers for my hairstyling salon, I spoke for civic and community organizations. I told them stories about customer service and funny things that had happened in my salon. At the end of my presentation, I'd put their business cards in a hat and pull out one for a free hairstyling. These cards quickly built my mailing list.

Negotiating: If there's an organization that can't pay, but you really want to speak for them, remember these magic words: "What else can you give me?"

Just Do It!
Speaking before a group of strangers can be intimidating. Just keep focused on the positive impact the presentation will have on your business reputation and your bottom line.

Don't expect to be a magnificent speaker the first time out. Your goal is to present the most valuable information possible to the members of the audience. Think of it as the beginning of many long-term relationships.

Go on! Step up on the podium and profit from the experience!

By Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Harlem Week's Golden Hoops Tournament Tips Off

The myriad of cultural, educational and entertainment venues has made Harlem Week (really Harlem Month) the most celebrated program of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce. The chamber is planning a massive 110th birthday celebration tinder the savvy business acumen of Lloyd Williams, its CEO/President, in the fall. But it's still August, and summer in Harlem means the playgrounds of the world's most famous Black community are filled to the brim with Summer League hoops.

As part of the 32nd Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce Harlem Week, the annual Golden Hoops Basketball Tournament, directed by Bob McCullough, will tip off at Riverbank State Park today (Thursday) with a 3:00 p.m. girls game, followed by a pair of boys games at 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. The semifinals are set for Friday and Saturday with the championship games being held on Sunday as a Biddy Future Stars game will begin the show at 1:00 p.m. followed by the girls championship game at 2:30 p.m. and the boys championship at 4:30. An added attraction will feature the Puerto Rican All-Stars facing off against the Dominican All-Stars. That fierce rivalry will tip off at 6:00 p.m.

All the games will be held at the beautiful Riverbank State Park situated on the banks of the Hudson River, New York side. Top high school girls teams who will see action include the 2005 champs, Douglas Panthers, SCAN, Harlem Lady Knights, Kips Bay, Kennedy Center and the Bronx Stars.

El Faro will head up the slate of boys high school teams that will include a team from New Haven, Connecticut, who lost to Brooklyn in last year's championship game, The Metro Hawks, Bronx Gauchos, Harlem Stars, Brooklyn All-Stars and the New Jersey Road Runners.

Source: New York Amsterdam News, 10/2006


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Good Gone Wild

Sometimes, ecotourism hurts what it sets out to help

The island of Damas is a half-hour boat ride from the Chilean coast. On the island, it's dry and rocky. The Humboldt penguins that live there have no ice slopes to slide down in their black-tie apparel. Instead, these desert penguins seek out caves to shade their eggs from the sun. If they can't find a spot beneath a boulder, they may burrow into seabird dung. Sometimes, they nest inside a cactus.

To see these penguins, visitors usually begin in La Serena, Chile. They drive 40 miles north on a main highway and then cut toward the coast on a gravel road that leads to the fishing village of Punta de Choros. Local fishermen there charge a fee to guide the tourists to Damas by boat. On the island, people are free to walk into the caves where the penguins live. Anyone can watch a mother brooding an egg and snap a picture with a flash camera or a mobile phone.

What began in the early 1990s as a place with a few hundred curious visitors has now become a tourism destination that attracts 10,000 penguin peepers a year. Damas provides an example of ecotourism, defined as the practice of visiting sites where exotic landscapes and rare animals are the main attractions. Ideally, ecotourists learn about the habitats that they visit, provide donations to conserve them, and generate income for host communities.

Since this model of tourism emerged some 25 years ago, many special-interest sites, like Damas, have experienced hikes in visitation. Often, ecotourism is a wild success (SN: 12/3/05, p. 364). The United Nations even billed 2002 the "International Year of Ecotourism."

But several recent studies show a more complicated picture of the impact of ecotourism, a practice that remains largely unregulated. The increased crowds lead to population changes in some animals, such as the Humboldt penguin and, some 4,000 miles away in the Bahamas, the Allen Cays rock iguana. A mounting garbage problem caused by over-visitation by turtle viewers threatens the beaches of Tortuguero in Costa Rica. People who live near Ghana's Kakum National Park have lost access to the forest's resources and now suffer high rates of unemployment.

"There comes a time when you have so much interference through ecotourism that you affect the thing you're trying to protect," says Robert E. Hueter of the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Fla., who studies ecotourism's impact on whale sharks. Ecotourism's benefits to conservation and public education are considerable, he says, but the downsides may take a long time to recognize.

"I think there's been a glib … championing of ecotourism, that it's a win-win situation," says Martha Honey, executive director of the Center on Ecotourism and Sustainable Development in Washington, D.C. But by studying how animals, environments, and cultures respond to ecotourism, "we can set up systems that aren't having adverse impacts," she says.

FLIGHT OF THE PENGUINS Ursula Ellenberg decided to study how human disturbance affects the Humboldt penguins when she was quietly counting their population, but not quietly enough. While she was looking through binoculars from a cliff about 150 meters away, the penguins began racing in all directions. One of the penguins had spotted Ellenberg, despite her unobtrusive perch. If a cautious researcher can spark such a reaction, she thought, how would the penguins react to a gaggle of shutter-happy tourists?

To study the effects of human-Humboldt interaction, Ellenberg and her colleagues measured the breeding success of penguins on the islands of Damas, Choros, and Chanaral, which together make up the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve. The island cluster serves as a good point of comparison: Damas receives 10,000 annual visitors, but Choros and Chanaral are much less accessible from the mainland and attract only 1,000 and 100 tourists a year, respectively.

Ellenberg's team was the first to study these penguin populations. The researchers monitored eggs and chicks on each island for 5 months after the penguin mothers laid the eggs. If a nest is abandoned during this period, the chicks usually die. Penguins have many chances to breed during their 20-year life spans, and they would sooner abandon a nest than risk personal harm-say, from an approaching human.

In 2003, the only year that Ellenberg's group studied Chanaral, the penguins there bred an average of 1.34 chicks. On Choros, the average was just below one chick in both 2002 and 2003. But on Damas, female penguins produced, on average, a little less than half a chick in 2002, and the birthrate dipped well below a quarter of a chick in 2003, Ellenberg's team reports online and in the November Biological Conservation.

"It's surprising, when you have islands at such close proximity, that you'd already get a difference," says Ellenberg, a biologist at the University of Otago in New Zealand. "They should do similarly well."

Working in the Bahamas, John Iverson of Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., has discovered similarly detrimental effects of human presence on Allen Cays rock iguanas, an endangered species.

When Iverson began studying these animals 25 years ago, ecotourism was just under way. At that point, male iguanas outnumbered females two to one. Historically, fishermen had captured iguanas to sell or eat, and female iguanas were easier to trap because they guard their nests rather than flee an intruder. Iverson and Geoffrey Smith of Denison University in Granville, Ohio, propose in an upcoming Canadian Journal of Zoology that poachers created the observed gender imbalance.

Enter ecotourism. As island management increased protection of its main attraction, poaching declined. The balance of the sexes was restored remarkably quickly. Iverson and Smith found that the increased survival of females that came with the end of poaching wasn't the whole story. Male iguana numbers declined as ecotourism increased, they say.

As part of the study, Iverson and Smith in 2000 tagged the largest male iguanas in two ecotourism areas. At one site, the number of tagged iguanas fell from 30 to 9 by 2005. Using death rates calculated from the previous 20 years, the researchers had predicted that 16 would survive. At the other site, the researchers found none of the 17 tagged iguanas in 2005, though they had expected 9 animals to remain.

Part of the problem, the researchers argue, is that the males tend to be aggressive and interact more with human visitors than females do. Some of the 54,000 people who visit the area each year feed the iguanas hazardous material such as spoiled food or Styrofoam, which can kill them.

But Iverson and Smith found some of the missing males at nearby islets that iguanas couldn't have reached themselves. This displacement led the researchers to suspect that ecotourism guides had removed many of the large, aggressive male iguanas from the most visited sites.

Moving the iguanas could have ecological ramifications, Iverson says. For example, some of the displaced iguanas were found at sites that are home to an endangered species of seabirds called Audubon's shearwaters. Because the iguanas and the birds require similar nesting territories, the iguanas might crowd out the shearwaters, he says.

In other words, ecotourism may sometimes rescue some animals at the expense of others.

WASTE OF SPACE Visitors travel 3 to 5 hours by boat to reach the beaches of Costa Rica's Tortuguero National Park-home to hawksbill, green, and leatherback turtles. Since the early 1990s, park officials and conservationists have gone to great lengths to protect these rare animals. The money that tourists pay to watch the turtles nest goes to safeguard the species.

But preservation has taken priority over solving a growing waste-management problem that threatens the environment's well-being and, ultimately the turtles' health, says Zoë Meletis of Duke University's Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, N.C. Since Meletis began going to Tortuguero in 2002, the number of tourists has shot from 35,000 to 87,000 a year. And while tourists don't directly harm the turtles, they leave trash such as water bottles and snack wrappers in Tortuguero, which lacks an adequate waste-processing center.

The local government doesn't take responsibility for clearing much of the trash, says Meletis, and boat drivers scoff at transporting waste when they can make more money carrying passengers. Many villagers resort to burning garbage, releasing hazardous compounds into the air. Burying the accumulating waste isn't an option, because refuse contaminates the underground water supply used by local villagers, and waste buried on the beach is re-exposed by ocean waves, creating a hazard for the turtles.

"It's a classic example of ecotourism as a double-edged sword," says Meletis. The same things that draw people to Tortuguero-its isolation and wildlife-make it difficult to manage as a high-volume tourist destination. "It raises a lot of money for turtle conservation," she says. "But some important negative impacts aren't getting the attention they deserve."

When ecotourism in an area grows, the site becomes vulnerable to the same problems, such as sewage maintenance, that come with mass tourism, says John Davenport of University College Cork in Ireland. In the March Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, he reviewed ecotourism's impact on coastal destinations.

Even for activities that aren't usually destructive, a high volume of tourists can create a problem, he says. Such is the case with scuba diving-traditionally a well-managed, environmentally friendly sport. Throughout the world, researchers have seen a link between dive traffic and coral damage, Davenport says. Divers knock into corals or stir up silt that suffocates the reefs, which regenerate slowly.

When divers add an underwater camera to already cumbersome scuba gear-a juggling act that Davenport compares with "driving while having a shave and a smoke"-the damage becomes worse. In Sodwana Bay in South Africa, divers who took underwater photographs damaged reefs by bumping into them in on average, 9 out of 10 dives, whereas divers who didn't take pictures caused such damage in just 1 out of every 6 dives, he reports.

"Since you've got a million new scuba divers [around the world] each year, it's going to be an uphill battle," Davenport says.

GHOST RAINFOREST At Kakum National Park in Ghana, the mission to protect the rainforest and its diverse wildlife, while opening the area to tourism, has been successful. Tropical evergreens, endangered forest elephants and bongo antelopes, and some 600 species of butterflies have been preserved, and visitors can experience a bird's-eye glimpse of the forest from a unique canopy walk-a hanging bridge connected at the tops of tall trees.

But the people who live around the park have endured "untold hardships" so that conservation can thrive, says Seth Appiah-Opoku of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, who wrote about their plight in the African Geographical Review in 2004 and who continues to study the area.

After interviewing residents of 100 households in four villages surrounding Kakum, Appiah-Opoku found that that the local population had relied heavily on the rainforest: on trees to build homes, on herbs for traditional medicine, and on some animals and plants for food. But once the park opened to the public in 1994, the park's resources became off-limits for these uses.

The restriction has effectively eliminated hunting as a native occupation. In turn, the forest-elephant population has increased, which is bad news for the majority of villagers, who are farmers. The elephants have ravaged roughly 7,800 acres of farmland since the park opened, Appiah-Opoku reports, but killing the animals, even in defense of personal territory, is illegal.

Overall, the unemployment rate has skyrocketed from 3 percent to 27 percent since 1994, and many of the villages are "ghost towns," Appiah-Opoku says. He adds that Kakum National Park officials have confirmed his observations.

"Ecotourism very often is in direct conflict with host communities for its markets and resources," he says. "In a place like this, there should have been an agreement that part of the money would go into the [village] economy, that some of the people would be employed in the park."

But even when local inhabitants participate in the planning, the arrangements often go awry, argues Sanjay Nepal of Texas A&M University in College Station. He reports on the cultural impacts of ecotourism in Taiwan in an upcoming Tourism Management. If members of the native population don't reap profits from ecotourism, they may focus on their diminished opportunity to harvest the natural resources they had access to in the past, says Nepal.

"One of the things I've lately begun to think is we're asking too much from the so-called idea of ecotourism," he says. "Trying to find a balance between the social, economic, and environmental elements-it's ambitious and it's complex."

The key to this balance is more research, says Honey. As scientists study ecotourism's impacts, new understandings "need to be fed back into the industry, to educate what is acceptable behavior," she says. "There needs to be a closer alliance between hard science and the tourism industry."

Currently, good research on ecotourism is difficult to find, says Davenport. Most destinations weren't studied before ecotourism began, making before-and-after comparisons difficult. Moreover, many governments are reluctant to provide funding for investigations because they profit from ecotourism.

Perhaps the major barrier is the working assumption that ecotourism, with the conservation funds it raises, must be better than typical mass tourism. Says Hueter, "My concern is, that's where the analysis ends, and only in rare cases do [researchers] look deeper."

In the case of the Humboldt penguins, a lack of research led to improper viewing guidelines, says Ellenberg. The Humboldt reserve based its rules for approaching penguins on a related South American species called the Magellanic penguin, which is far less sensitive to human disturbance.

Now, only a few dozen penguins reside on Damas, says Ellenberg. Local fishermen estimate that three times as many lived there before ecotourism began. As today's small population slips further, tourists will head to the nearby islands.

If the guidelines aren't changed quickly, the Humboldt penguins-and ecotourism on Damas and then the other islands-will be gone, says Ellenberg. "And once they're gone, that's it."

By: Jaffe, Eric, Science News

Electrifying Facts

1735: Blackpool gets first guest house. By 1780 the town has four hotels and four alehouses

1879: It is proudly said, of the first electrics to light up the promenade, that they emit the electrical equivalent of 48,000 candles. Blackpool is the first place in the world to introduce electric street lighting

1894: Blackpool Tower (below) opens, inspired by the Eiffel Tower. Three thousand punters pay 12d to take lifts to the top

1896: Alderman William George Bean founds the Pleasure Beach as an “American-Style Amusement Park, to make adults feel like children again and to inspire gaiety of a primarily innocent character”

1904: A teenaged Charlie Chaplin plays the part of Billie in Sherlock Holmes at the Opera House

1912: The first ever royal visit to Blackpool, by Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Louise, is marked by a lights display that the public pressures the local council to repeat annually. The Illuminations begin

1939: The morning after the preview night, Germany invades Poland. The Illuminations are suspended for ten years

1942: Noel Coward premieres and appears in two of his own plays

1982: The escapologist Karl Bartoni (below) gets married while suspended in a cage from the tower

1992: “Tower World” is opened by Diana, Princess of Wales

2005: A new, 100ft screen is installed for text messages during the Illuminations

2006: Surprising bid by Blackpool to become a World Heritage Site. “It’s not about being pretty, it’s about being important,” says a council spokeswoman. l Research by Vanessa Nicholson

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Sex, sun and HIV

The Turks and Caicos Islands are known for idyllic beauty.

Unspoiled beaches ramble for miles and coral reefs teem with life. But behind the beautiful façade lies a shocking trend: an explosion of HIV/AIDS illnesses fueled by foreign prostitutes, native gigolos, and the sex tourists who frequent them.

Health officials said that trend is helping to spread AIDS in a country that has one of the highest incidences of the disease in the Caribbean. Only Haiti has a higher percentage of HIV/AIDS cases.

And government officials said they are doing all they can to stem cases of the killer virus.

But the island is not alone. More than half a million Caribbean people live with HIV/AIDS, according to the Trinidad-based Caribbean Epidemiology Centre, and the area has the highest number of HIV/AIDS cases in the Western Hemisphere.

The Turks and Caicos Islands are an archipelago of 40 islands about 600 miles off the coast of Miami. Most of the country's population of 32,000 resides in Providenciales, a rocky island dotted with construction sites, resorts and expensive homes.

Sex workers are not the only ones contributing to the HIV/AIDS problem. A culture of promiscuity among Caribbean men is also to blame.

Local men, or "belongers," who have joined in the sex trade, can make a month's wages in an evening by catering to wealthy European and American women, according to native islanders. In addition to sex work, some men practice "sweethearting," or having a relationship with both a wife and a sweetheart.

"Part of the society really doesn't want to work and want a girlfriend to maintain them," said local Ricky Ebanks, 28.

One local journalist, who did not want to be named for fear of job repercussions, said many of the women are the sole earners in their families, and see prostitution as a way to make a lot of money in a short period of time.

"They come willingly," he said of foreign sex workers. "They don't stay once they've made a certain amount of money."

Locals, many who are outraged by the influx of sex workers, told the AmNews that a lot of the women are from Eastern Europe and the Dominican Republican.

But, Ebanks said both locals and the island's large expatriate population have contributed to the demand for sex workers, whose prices can range from $200-$350 per hour.

More than 10 years ago, the government launched an HIV/AIDS offensive to curb the disease. In addition to condom distribution and free medication and treatment to all HIV/AIDS cases, Keziah Nash, assistant coordinator for the National AIDS Program in Grand Turk, said that a number of other programs and services are available to treat and prevent the disease.

Residents receive free AIDS testing, and the government-sponsored "Buddy" program pairs people with AIDS with a buddy who provides emotional support while making sure the client is cared for. The National AIDS Program is currently treating about 64 clients, according to Nash.

The problem, Nash said, is identifying sex workers.

"We don't have a clear idea to who the sex workers are; they haven't been identified," she said in a telephone interview this week from Grand Turk. "We have condom distribution points, though. We leave them at bars, hotels, the airport, and at the National AIDS Program in Providenciales and Grand Turk."

Tony, 31, a short Dominican man with a dead tooth in the front of his mouth, is a one of a handful of men who provide women to customers.

Tony, who did not want his last name used for fear of being deported, said there were three types of sex workers: ones who are looking for a long-term love, ones that are lured into the sex trade after not finding a job with a comparable wage-earning potential and ones that come specifically to work in the sex trade.

"There are plenty of ladies here," he said, motioning to his cell phone.

Inside Providenciales' Club Cameo's, a place where female prostitutes meet clients, several scantily clad women quietly sip beer until a couple of tanned tourists enter. One woman, slender and dark-skinned in a form-fitting white dress, approaches one of the men and whispers in his ear while rubbing her hand up and down his back. After a few drinks, they leave together in his Jaguar.

By: Cunningham, Jennifer, New York Amsterdam News, 8/24/2006

Glacial migration to downtown

Don't look now, but the Toronto to Film Festival is moving. Ever so gradually.

After decades in the semi-chic, semi-boho Yorkville neighborhood, where the rambling U. of Toronto campus rubs shoulders with tony boutiques, the festival is carefully but steadily shifting south toward the city's revivified downtown corridor.

While Yorkville is built out in terms of available screens and hotel rooms, downtown is seeing a massive renaissance in terms of new hotel and condo developments, plus a rash of restaurants, theaters and other entertainment venues.

Prompting the migration, above all, is the five-screen Festival Center, set to open in 2009 as the fest's hub at the downtown corner of King Street and John Street. The complex "represents a radical change for the festival," says the fest's sales office topper, Giulia Filippelli. "The city is redesigning itself, and this reflects part of that redesign."

Globetrotters on the festival circuit may sense in all of this an echo of the once-derided Berlin fest's locale change from the city's west quadrant east to Potsdamer Platz. "I foresee this to be similar to Berlin's, only with perhaps less complaining," adds Filippelli.

Observant Toronto visitors can already detect the rumblings of the move. As fest co-director Noah Cowan notes: "We already have venues toward and in downtown, along with our regular gala venue, the Roy Thomson Hall. The Elgin, the Ryerson and the screens in the Paramount Theater multiplex are all far closer to where the center will be than Yorkville, so festival audiences are already getting accustomed somewhat to leaving Yorkville to see films."

Add to this the Art Gallery of Ontario's Jackman Hall, regular home to the fest's "Wavelengths" section (though temporarily moved this year to the Al Green Theater uptown), and the downtown trend is starkly evident.

At the same time, fest CEO Piers Handling acknowledges that there's a distinct risk in spreading what used to be a deliberately clustered number of screens.

"The festivals I love the most tend to concentrate around a center, so you can walk between venues," he says. "Now we're much more spread than we used to be, and we'll have to resolve that. Being in basically two different areas does create problems."

Having examined the crisis in U.S. cities, which had their once-vital downtown cores dissipate with suburban flight, Toronto city planners are determined to stem any possible tide out of downtown and have devised considerable condo and entertainment venue (read: nighttime) construction as a magnet for keeping dwellers in the city proper.

The results are already dearly visible on the downtown skyline, where condo towers, hotels, restaurants and megaplexes, such as AMC's at the corner of Dundas and Yonge, sprout in every direction,

Though it may be counterintuitive, Handling observes land had become more available downtown -- with the large lot for the center as a dramatic example. "It could have been located near Yorkville," he says, "but the land was there downtown, and it basically forced the issue for us. There was then no question that we would be moving south."

By: Koehler, Robert, Variety

60 Seconds

Internet entrepreneur Daisuke Enomoto, who would have been Japan's first space tourist, has failed his medical. He will not be allowed to fly to the International Space Station in September, the Russian space agency Roskosmos announced on Monday. Enomoto could fly at a later date after "additional measures" are taken.

Noise, noise everywhere
There is no escape from industrial noise pollution — not even underwater. Since the 1960s there has been a tenfold increase in underwater ocean noise off southern California, according to a study published in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. The noise is blamed on the increase in global shipping and higher ship speeds. Its effect on wildlife is unknown.

Don't chew on this
Whether it's smoked through a water pipe or rolled up in a dried leaf, tobacco will raise your risk of heart disease, according to a study in The Lancet last week. It looked at over 27,000 people from 52 countries and found that even chewing tobacco — recently touted as a safer alternative to smoking — can double the risk of heart disease.

Biobank gets go-ahead
The UK's huge project to investigate how genes and lifestyle combine to cause common diseases has received the go-ahead to proceed in full. After a successful three-month pilot scheme in Manchester, Biobank's organisers will now begin recruiting half a million citizens aged between 40 and 69 — about 1 per cent of the UK population.

No such thing as a hobbit
More scientists have criticised claims made last year that bones found on the Indonesian island of Flores are those of a new hominin species, dubbed "the hobbit". Flores is too small to have maintained an isolated population for long enough to allow the evolution of a new species, say researchers at Pennsylvania State University.

New Scientist, 8/26/2006

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Italy's south is missing the tourist boat

OCCASIONALLY, German tourists stop at the museum and archaeological site at Locri Epizefiri in Calabria, one of the most important ancient Greek settlements by the Ionian Sea. But most of the time, foreign tourists pass by Italy's deep south, to the consternation of local businesses and governments.

Italy's mezzogiorno, as the country's south is known, is far away and hard to reach. But sadly it does not have the accompanying advantage of being less spoilt than other parts of Europe. In a recent report on the south's economy, Svimez, a think-tank which specialises in southern issues, notes that tourism there suffers all the nuisance of intensive development seen in other Mediterranean countries, but without the benefits. There are few concrete monsters, but coasts have been ruined by unregulated ribbon development, which puts off tourists. Elsewhere, at least, says Svimez, mega-structures attracted foreign capital and created real industries.

There are bright spots. Some stretches of coast, like the few kilometres of citrus groves and clear sea around Cape Spartivento in southern Calabria, are unspoilt. So are the Amalfi riviera, Capri and Ischia in Campania, although these get crowded. Naples and Pompeii have been favourites since the 18th century. Baroque Palermo and Sicily's Greek temples at Segesta, Selinunte and Agrigento are increasingly popular. Indeed, Campania and Sicily together attract more than one half of foreign visitors to the south. But the tourism in the mezzogiorno is feeble. Less than one third of the 17m or so people who visit each year are foreigners, compared with a half of visitors to central and northern Italy. Svimez's report says that the south earned $4.2 billion from foreign tourists in 2003, compared with $10.8 billion for Greece, $10.6 billion for Turkey and $30.5 billion for Spain.

Closing the gap will be hard. Local authorities have promoted the south in a fragmented and half-hearted way, and politicians have failed to protect the environment. Infrastructure is inadequate--and not just roads and railways; water in the centre of Reggio Calabria, Calabria's largest city, is brackish and unsuitable even for washing. Svimez warns that competition for foreign tourists will get more intense, and not only from Italy's Mediterranean neighbours. Increasingly the mezzogiorno is fighting for trade with more distant destinations that tempt visitors with not only sun and sand, but exoticism, too.